Just like there are two sides to a coin, there exists ‘negative’ SEO strategy as well. Unfortunately, digital market is a world as full of unethical practices. If you aren’t familiar with what’s negative SEO strategy, read this article and find out.

Even if you are hearing of the term negative SEO for the first time, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Business world is a paradox of white-hats and black-hats. Although however much profits do the latter make, a business can’t sustain on unethical practices for long.

negative SEO strategy

But till it does exist, it harms others. Many businesses sort to black-hat tactics to bring their competitors down. Sadly, this isn’t a very uncommon scenario when it comes to digital marketing. Due to negative SEO, many businesses have been thrown deep into the oceans of public infamy. Most could never recover.

Saving your business from others’ negative SEO practices is as crucial as following positive SEO practices yourself. To do that, it is first important understand how negative SEO works.

Types of negative SEO attacks and corresponding preventions

# Website hacking

Hacking a website requires skilled unethical hackers. Hence, it is an expensive medium. But at the same time, this is one of the most detrimental cyber-attacks an online business can face. There are many ways a hacker can undermine a website’s SEO performance once he/she has it in control. Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen up your website’s security system.


First understand how it works. When a hacker breaks into your website, it is unlikely for him or her to hijack it entirely. In maximum cases, they won’t have total control over your website and you’d still have access to it. In fact, you might not be able to notice any changes until it’s too late.

Hence, you could sort to Google Search Console to notify you in case it detects security breaches. Also, you can run site audits to identify technical issues that may be caused by hacking. Finally, you can report hacking using The FTC Complaint Assistant.

Moreover, there is a web-based tool that can help you find out in case your website is hacked. It can be accessed at https://isithacked.com/

# Toxic backlinks

Backlinks are one of the influencing factors of search engine optimization. If you have backlinks from reputed and trustworthy websites, it can help you gain higher Google ranking and visibility. However, low-quality backlinks from spammy websites can bring down your search engine position. Many a times, businesses try to bring down their competitors by generating bad links through link farms, automated software, and PBNs (public blog networks). This can apparently cause great harm to your online business.


Using disavow is an ultimate way to tackle negative SEO attack perpetuated by toxic backlinks. Disavowing helps weed out the bad links manually. According to many users, it actually helps in getting rid of the toxic backlinks. However, the process works slow. If you are badly hit by bad links, it may take a while for you to retain your visibility.

# Creating website duplicates

It is another common unethical practice where a website’s content is scraped and duplicate websites are created. These fake websites are spread across the internet. As a result of content duplicity, Google associates your website with spam-sites. And hence, your search engine ranking eventually drops down.


If you think your website’s content is scraped and/or your find your website’s doppelgangers, there are a few steps you can take:

#Contact the fake website’s hosting provider and ask them to take it down.

#Inform Google about such fake sites and request it’s termination. Go to the following link: https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en#ts=1115655

#Sort to The FTC Complaint Assistant

# Fake negative reviews

This is another very common negative SEO practice done by businesses to hard their competitor’s reach. We all know how Google values ratings and reviews and how it contributes to a website’s ranking and visibility. Fake negative reviews are not only bad for SEO, but they also harm a business’s reputation and instigate a negative word-of-mouth.


Many a times, online businesses pay agencies that specialises in generating fake ratings and reviews. In such case, there is no particular tool that can help you identify and weed fake negative reviews. However, regular monitoring the reviews your business receives online can help. Generally such reviews are more or less same and are written in a peculiar way can be spotted.

If you are certain a particular review is fake, you can report it to the site’s administration.

Key takeaway

Sadly, negative search engine marketing tactics are a part of the digital business world as well. Many a times, businesses try to bring down their competitors by engaging in black-hat SEO strategies. With the help of the guide below, you can identify negative SEO attacks and stop them from harming your website before it’s too late. The key is to keep your eyes open and ensure at every once in a while that you are not under such attack. This way, you will be able to maintain high Google ranking and visibility in a long run.

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Somya Sharma : Regardless of being a Delhi University graduate with a major in English Literature, Somya's interests are not limited to poetry and drama. As a person who loves researching, discussing and writing about topics rooted in various disciplines, the list of subjects that tickle her fancy is ever-growing. She finds the power of psychology in marketing particularly intriguing and has set out writing blogs with the aim of helping budding marketers polish-up.